Hanover is a superb town to explore on foot, by bike, or even by canoe. Start by picking up a map of the Dartmouth campus, available from the college's information center on the green (summer and fall only) or at The Hanover Inn across the street. Free guided tours of the campus also offered in summer, and the expansive, leafy campus is a delight to walk through.

South of the green, next to The Hanover Inn, is the modern Hopkins Center for the Arts (tel. 603/646-2422); Dartmouth students just call it "The Hop." The center attracts national acts to its 900-seat concert hall, and stages top-notch dance and theatrical performances in its Moore Theater. Wallace Harrison, the architect who later went on to fame for designing Lincoln Center in New York, designed this building. You can find a comprehensive schedule of upcoming events at the Hop at its website, http://hop.dartmouth.edu.

You can also shop quite nicely in Hanover's little downtown. In addition to some fine gift and clothing shops, there are two outstanding bookstores standing nearly shoulder to shoulder. The huge Dartmouth Bookstore, at 33 S. Main St. (tel. 603/643-3616), was sold to Barnes & Noble's college bookstore division in 2005, but it remains more or less the same as it was before: a maze of good rooms of children's and travel books, calendars, and a bargain-basement section heavy on poetry, literature, and foreign language titles. The newspaper and magazine selection is really exemplary, and staff are unfailingly helpful -- there's even an information desk for tracking down or ordering hard-to-find titles, staffed by actual adults.

Good as the Dartmouth Bookstore is, though, I'm a little partial to Left Bank Books a few doors down (and up the stairs), at 9 S. Main St. (tel. 603/643-4479). Going upstairs, you wonder what you'll find; when you get there, you discover that owner Corlan Johnson runs a great one-woman show, stuffing a small space (and its good Hanover view) with a changing selection of (mostly used) poetry, fiction, philosophy, art books, cookbooks, and more. The leftward (read: liberal) tilt of the place is unmistakable, and so is Johnson's eye for a good read; I never leave here empty-handed.

Orozco's Hidden Artwork at Dartmouth -- Dartmouth's Baker Memorial Library -- that tall, church-like building at the back of the green -- houses a wonderful hidden treasure downstairs: a set of fresco murals by the Mexican painter José Clemente Orozco, who painted The Epic of American Civilization while teaching here between 1932 and 1934. The huge paintings, 24 panels covering 3,200 square feet, wrap around an entire study room almost unnoticed by napping and chatting students. Ask for a fact sheet interpreting the colorful, metaphorical murals at the library's front desk.

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